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Good MusicWhat It Is and Who Gets to Decide$
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John J. Sheinbaum

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226593241

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593418.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 December 2019

Unified: Beethoven, the Beatles, and the Imperfect Ideology of the Masterpiece

Unified: Beethoven, the Beatles, and the Imperfect Ideology of the Masterpiece

(p.51) 2 Unified: Beethoven, the Beatles, and the Imperfect Ideology of the Masterpiece
Good Music

John J. Sheinbaum

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the conventional notion of the musical masterpiece as a perfect synthesis of its various parts, a unified organic whole growing out of its musical DNA. Masterpieces seem to operate in a special realm, as the most outstanding and brilliant works of their particular genre. However, using Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, works that cast parallel shadows on the histories of both classical and popular musics, the chapter argues that a conventional ideology of good music cannot capture numerous stylistic and structural features of either. At first these works hint at the possibility of beautifying synthesis by containing their diversities within a coherent frame. But, most essentially, their structures then dramatize sublimity as their finales function outside those frames, and outside the possibilities of formal and stylistic coherence.

Keywords:   the Beatles, Ludwig van Beethoven, coherence, masterpiece, Ninth Symphony, organic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, sublimity, synthesis, unified

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